One of the most exciting things I get to do is bring the flavor of my homeland to New Zealand. For 8 weeks starting next week, we will move and groove to the rhythms of Africa to stay warm in cold Dunedin. I cannot wait to dance with you all. See you there.
I am ecstatic about this moment. I remember when I was informed about this fellowship and I thought to myself ” This is perfect for me and I must go for it” and then the self doubt began. Am I good enough? What about my full time job? What about my living arrangements? Would they care for what an African woman living in the U.S has to say? Would they care that I am not a trained classical dancer? Would they care that I am not a stick figured dancer? What if they don’t understand my accent? Are there black people there? (this was before I found out the meaning of black in Aotearoa is different from where I live). I pushed through all the doubts and moved forward with the application. The application process was much simpler than I had expected. I had to send in a proposal about what I planned on doing through a paper and an unedited video. I had so much anxiety around making the video. I looked through youtube and could not find any previous winners of the fellowship posted. I had one week left to go before the deadline and no video. A friend suggested the interview style I used which made it less nerve racking and it worked. I had sent in numerous proposals which all got rejected so why would this time be different? sent it in with crossed fingers hoping they wouldn’t judge all the background noise and my hair (its a black girl thing to be worried about the perception of the hair). It was less than perfect but because of the timeline, I sent it in anyway. I prayed that it would be selected. I envisioned myself jumping up and down from hearing the good news. Once it was submitted, the anxiety dissipated and all I had control over was my mantras, visualizations and positive thoughts.
On June 26th 2014, I received an email that stated “Great news, I’m pleased to advise that you have been shortlisted for the Caroline Plummer Fellowship for 2015. Your application will be considered by the full board in mid-July. We will be in contact with you again following the boards consideration of the short-listed applications”. I was ecstatic!!!! I prayed, mediated and envisioned the possibilities of this opportunity. In July 2014, I received a phone call from the Dean of the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences personally to notify me that I was the chosen recipient. I of course dramatically fell on the floor from shock of the great news and was in shock the rest of the week. It’s been almost a year since I received the initial information and since then, the press release went out, I notified my friends and family, left my full time nurse consultant job, and I have moved to a foreign country. I am here in Dunedin NZ reflecting on how I got here to this moment. Six months seems like hardly enough time to accomplish the work I have set out to do researching the effect music and dance has on mothers and babies. I hope that I am able to connect with the right people, learn what needs to be learned, honor and respect the people of the land and be present in the precious moments that are yet to come. Stay tuned for more of my reflections.